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Lot
5358

1897 $20 PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC. CAC....

2012 April 18-22 US Coins & Platinum Night CSNS Signature Auction- Schaumburg #1169

 
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Auction Ended On: Apr 19, 2012
Item Activity: 6 Internet/mail/phone bidders
2,027 page views
Location: Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel
1551 North Thoreau Drive
Schaumburg, IL 60173

Description:
1897 Twenty Dollar, PR66 Ultra Cameo
Tied for Finest at NGC, The Eliasberg Coin
1897 $20 PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC. CAC. The last years of the 19th century provided the perfect environment for the production of high-quality proof coinage at the Philadelphia Mint. In particular, 1896, 1897, and 1898 mark the high-water point in both proof gold and proof Morgan silver dollars.
In 1897, Philadelphia struck 86 proof Liberty Head double eagles and 731 proof Morgan silver dollars. High-grade, well-preserved examples of each are among the most spectacularly manufactured entries within their respective series. But survivors of the two mintages vary sharply in their subsequent fates. Many of the proof silver dollars still exist in remarkably high grade. The sum of one dollar was not exorbitant in the late 19th century, even if a dollar went much further than it does today; the average wage was about 22 cents per hour. Today, NGC and PCGS combined have seen several hundred submissions of the 1897 Morgan dollar, in grades as high as PR68 Cameo (PCGS) and PR68 Ultra Cameo (NGC).
The picture is far different for the 1897 proof double eagle, as painted by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth in the second edition of their Gold Encyclopedia:

"Although the mintage of the 1897 issue is fewer than for the 1896 double eagle in Proof, the date is considerably rarer. There are just 20 to 25 coins known in all grades. The population numbers are higher, but these do not take into account resubmissions. There are also several mishandled examples represented on the population reports. After 1897, Proof double eagles become much more available."


A total of 45 double eagles dated 1897 are certified at NGC and PCGS combined, including duplicates. The Mint's regular practice during the era was to melt any extra unsold pieces at year's end; the number minted does not necessarily (or usually) equal the number released. Even then, those that were released suffered enormous attrition rates, likely in the first couple of decades afterward, when their numismatic value was only slightly above their face value. As mentioned earlier, the face value of twenty dollars would represent more than 90 hours' work for the typical American laborer in 1900.
The present PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC 1897 double eagle is tied for the finest Ultra Cameo at that service with one other submission, and there are none finer (2/12). The obverse of this piece shows little in the way of pedigree markers, save for a missing area on the bridge of Liberty's nose that appears to be from die polishing. The reverse shows a tiny, curling lintmark beneath the second T in STATES that touches the top of one of the sun's rays. A similar lintmark runs from the star above to WE. Deep gold-on-black contrast prevails throughout both sides, well within the Ultra Cameo designation. The strike is full throughout.
From The William D. Plumley Collection.
Ex: John M. Clapp Collection, probably purchased directly from the Mint in 1897; John H. Clapp; Clapp estate; Louis Eliasberg in 1942, via Stack's; United States Gold Coin Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 997; Buddy Ebsen Collection (Superior, 6/1987), lot 2910; Public Auction Sale (Stack's, 10/1988), lot 162; New York Signature (Heritage, 11/2003), lot 7976.(Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 26EJ, PCGS# 99113)

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